Will Airbus move more assembly work to the US?

Last week, I speculated on this blog that Airbus may use a KC-X contract win to shift more commercial aircraft assembly operations from Toulouse to Mobile, Alabama.

Since I never really know if I’m making a good guess or just talking crazy, it’s nice to see more knowledgable experts saying basically the same thing.

To wit: aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton wrote yesterday on his excellent online newsletter:

If Northrop gets the KC-30 contract, Airbus can start producing the A330-
200F in Mobile (AL), right alongside the KC-30. Given the weakness of the US dollar,
Airbus badly needs to shift production to a dollar-based cost center. The KC-30
production line in Mobile would enable this for the A330 freighter, which proved a
popular this year for sales. Would such a US line open the way for other Airbus products
to be produced here? This may sound far-fetched, but the foot-in-the-door may lead the


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4 Responses to Will Airbus move more assembly work to the US?

  1. John Price 31 October, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    If by “production”, commentators mean “Final Assembly”, then US-based production wouldn’t save all that much, seeing that Airbus has said in the past that final assembly accounts for less than 4% of the overall work.
    Transferring the building of the sections that go to final assembly from Germany, Britain and elsewhere in France would not only reverse the “Airbus system” at the same time as Boeing is emulating it for the PlasticLiner, but also the wobblies from workers all over Europe would be … well, just impagine !!!
    Does the idea really, really make sense ???

  2. Stephen Trimble 31 October, 2007 at 4:32 pm #

    Hey JP, thanks for commenting.

    Think of it this way: Why has AgustaWestland moved assembly of A109s and A119s to Philadelphia? Why is Alenia planning to shift all C-27J manufacturing to Jacksonville? Why, for that matter, would Japanese auto companies shift assembly to all over the US southeast?

    Perhaps there is a compelling economic argument that companies around the world have recognized?

  3. John Price 1 November, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    Well yes, Stephen … Lower cost workforce, non-(or hardly?) unionised, DoD main customer … (except for cars) …All that must weigh in the calculations … But as I said before, (excuse the typo) the noise of protesting wurkahs in Yurrup’d be … well, just imagine … Happy earplugs …
    Still, if that’s the way to have lots of KC-30s refuelling the USAF (and A380s for Presidential transport !! ???)let’s dream on …

  4. John Price 2 November, 2007 at 1:58 pm #

    PS to my above … With the Euro at 1.40 and still going skywards, Mr. Gallois could well be considering something drastic: he’s talked about the problem once or twice …
    And DoD may really, really want to have someone with real weight to put up against Big B (in alliance with some native talent, of course) …

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